The deadly shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is unfortunately only one example of at least 402 victims killed in 32 states since May 2007 in incidents involving private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns, according to the March update of the Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) Concealed Carry Killers on-line resource (www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm). VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is the result of Florida’s lax gun laws that allow virtually anyone to carry a concealed loaded handgun in public. While Florida’s ‘Shoot First’ law is the reason that George Zimmerman has not been arrested, it’s Florida’s concealed carry law that enabled Zimmerman to confront Trayvon Martin with a loaded handgun in the first place. Without Florida’s lax concealed carry law Trayvon Martin would be alive today.
Across America, hundreds of innocent lives and families have been decimated, their communities shaken, by concealed carry killers who acted as judge, jury, and executioner.” Despite the national outrage over the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Congress may soon act on legislation that would actually expand the ability of people like George Zimmerman to carry their guns to virtually every state. Two bills have been introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 2188 and S. 2213) that would significantly expand the ability of George Zimmerman – whose concealed carry permit is still valid – and all other concealed carry permit holders to carry their loaded handguns nationwide. The bills would force all states that issue concealed carry permits to recognize all out-of-state permits, even if the person could not qualify for a permit in that state.
The result would be that states such as New York and California that tightly regulate who can carry a gun would be forced to allow people with concealed carry permits issued by Florida and other states with lax laws to carry their guns into their states. Similar legislation (H.R. 822) passed the U.S. House in November 2011. The Violence Policy Center has been tracking shootings since May 2007 in which private citizens use their legal handguns to kill in non-self defense incidents. These killings, however, likely represent only a small percentage of the actual number of deaths caused by private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns because most state systems release little data about crimes committed by them. The primary source for Concealed Carry Killers is published news reports.
A detailed summary of each of 290 incidents is available at http://www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm. Clicking on each category leads to a state-by-state breakout for the incidents with current known status.